Heroes' Arena v0.20

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Heroes' Arena v0.20

Postby TL » May 10th, 2007, 7:24 pm

Hello all. Over the past week or so I've been working on a multiplayer arena scenario inspired by the old Platypus's Arena map. This one is a bit different in that it is most driven by leveling/AMLAs rather than having shops. Gold instead is used as a sort of scoring/"lives" mechanism; it costs 150 gold to respawn, so at the default setting of 300 gold you basically have three "lives", but you do still earn base income + bonus gold for killing enemies so you can earn extra respawns.

Instead of default unit trees this scenario uses a custom unit set (very incomplete) which levels through AMLAs only, earning new attacks and abilities through AMLA options in addition to plain damage/HP bonuses. I've also done some experimenting with v1.3.2's menu options so there are a couple of on-command powers you can earn.

This is a very very early version since it basically has only one and a half unit options available so far (I say "and a half" since the elf doesn't have a very complete set of AMLAs to earn). I do plan on eventually having a hero unit available for each of the major races (and some of the more notable or interesting minor ones) but figured I'd try to get some feedback on what I have so far. I also could use any ideas for new abilities, especially for non-human heroes, as I have some ideas but not really what I feel is "enough".

Any comments on balancing are appreciated. Solo games so far I've found to be very difficult and generally skewed towards defensive upgrades. I don't have quite as much experience with multiplayer games so far as I've just been testing on my own. So far nothing seems to be quite too dominating or overpowered although a few options might be a bit weak.
Last edited by TL on August 25th, 2007, 6:22 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby Clonkinator » May 12th, 2007, 10:54 am

Sounds interesting, and I'd love to test your scenario, but unfortunitally I don't have the development version... :(
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Postby Mythological » May 12th, 2007, 11:22 am

Sounds intersting - I have been working on a campaign with similar AMLA options. I'm often on 1.3 and I'll check it out
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Postby Nosmos » May 12th, 2007, 1:09 pm

Looks nice.
Just played it Solo with 1 Fencer and 1 Ranger.
The Ranger died fast but the fencer was alive and kicking in turn 50 (didnt set turns to unlimited). The combination of cold/drain/plague range attack and undead resistance + berserk melee was very strong :)
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Postby TL » May 12th, 2007, 6:00 pm

Nosmos wrote:Looks nice.
Just played it Solo with 1 Fencer and 1 Ranger.
The Ranger died fast but the fencer was alive and kicking in turn 50 (didnt set turns to unlimited). The combination of cold/drain/plague range attack and undead resistance + berserk melee was very strong :)


Impressive. I had thought Discorporation might have been too much but it's always taken me so long to get that it's mostly balanced out when I've tried it (I've tried that combo myself in 1-man games and never got much farther than turn 30). What other upgrades were you buying? When going the undead route I generally put my excess experience towards ranged damage boosts (for more draining and more zombies), maybe that's why I didn't live as long.

Also, how did you use the arena? Did you collect many bonuses from the ruined castles or did you just pick a defensible spot and spend most of the time camping out?

Unfortunately I just noticed that the version I had uploaded doesn't have any of the new menu commands working :oops: It can be fixed by editing the first line of Arena.cfg to be {./commands.cfg} but I fiixed the download version too.
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Postby Nosmos » May 12th, 2007, 7:07 pm

i stopped 1 game at turn 130 or something
well i did buy that undead stuff + melee damage + berserk

in the end i was just running around a bit :) in the beginning just standing at one point (in one of the outer castels)
hm i did collect the bonus exp only one time, is it supposed to work again ?

some comments :
1. you have income +2 ? is this intended ? i had lots of money in the lonmg game ? where did it come from ?
2. how much do you heal from level up ? looked a bit random to me
3. poison is a problem with the ranger
4. perhaps sorting the menu with the updates would be nice
5. the balacing of this will be really really hard, the map is a bit large imho
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Postby TL » May 12th, 2007, 7:28 pm

Nosmos wrote:i stopped 1 game at turn 130 or something
well i did buy that undead stuff + melee damage + berserk


Ah, guess I've never tried adding lots of melee damage to someone who had the undead upgrades too. I should look at toning down some of the undead defenses then.

Nosmos wrote:in the end i was just running around a bit :) in the beginning just standing at one point (in one of the outer castels)
hm i did collect the bonus exp only one time, is it supposed to work again ?


It is, but only if you visit another one of the outer castles first (you can go back and forth between two of the outer ruins and get a bonus each time, but can't keep collecting the bonus from the same castle until you go to one of the other ones).

Nosmos wrote:some comments :
1. you have income +2 ? is this intended ? i had lots of money in the lonmg game ? where did it come from ?


Yes, also you get gold for collecting the castle bonuses and for killing enemies. If you have enough gold you respawn when you die at a cost of 150 (basically you're earning "extra lives" for staying alive and defeating enemies).

Nosmos wrote:2. how much do you heal from level up ? looked a bit random to me


All level up options increase your maximum HP by 5 and heal 25 HP. (Except of course the "Toughness" upgrade which boosts your maximum HP more.)

Nosmos wrote:3. poison is a problem with the ranger


The "Vigor" upgrade gives weak regen which will stop poison damage and is available for both the hero types. It is kind of costly but poisoning units usually don't show up for a while.

Nosmos wrote:4. perhaps sorting the menu with the updates would be nice


How should it be sorted?

Nosmos wrote:5. the balacing of this will be really really hard, the map is a bit large imho


Well, I wanted to give players something to do other than just sit around someplace with good defense, which is why I have the bonus castles, and I wanted to make sure it wasn't too easy to get between castles. That's the main reason behind the size of it. Plus I do like the fact that it takes new enemies a while to cross the arena so you can maneuver around based on what's heading towards you, although I could stand to cut the size down a bit if it's really a problem.

I know getting everything really balanced is going to be just about impossible, especially trying to balance things equally for games with 1 or 2 characters vs. games with all 6 characters. I'd just settle for getting it balanced enough so that there's nothing totally dominating or totally useless. I'm pretty sure the elf is weaker at this point, if nothing else because I've got fewer upgrades available so you can't stack as many complementary bonuses as the human duelist guy can, so any ideas for powers to add to the elf (or any other race, since I plan on adding more) would be useful.
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Postby Ken_Oh » May 13th, 2007, 5:53 am

TL, let me just say that this is nothing short of awesome. I love the AMLA model and I think all of these MP RPGs should use something similar. I also love how you have advancement paths.

Vigorous does not cure poison, at least not for me. Also, respawning after dying doesn't cure poison either. This really makes the Undead path the only playable one at the moment.

EDIT: Vigor is curing the poison this time. I just chose Vigor after getting poisoned and I got unpoisoned the next round. There's something buggy going on...

EDIT #2: It wasn't Vigor that cured me. It was going to a castle and collecting exp.

It seems like you gave the crossbow marksmanship skill to the elf. When I choose it, it doesn't do anything.

Teleport: Does this even work? I haven't figured out how to use it.

I think the upgrade options have obvious groupings. You have stat upgrades (strength, dex, movement, toughness, etc.), combat abilities/skills (berserk, charge, backstab, etc.), terrain upgrades (movement and defense bonuses), "class path" upgrades, and so on. There are some stray ones that might not fit into anything else, like Vigorous, but you can maybe put that with stat upgrades. Either way, just kind of grouping those together, if you can, will make a big difference.

About the elf being underpowered. The reason for this has to do with a suggestion I have below. It's not because of a lack of skills, it's because having a strong ranged weapon is nothing like having a strong melee weapon. I'm currently on turn 161 (it's going very slowly at this point, and my laptop is getting really hot) and my human managed one kill on his turn, but then on the enemy's turn 13 of them attacked and died (not to mention everyone surrounding me is near death). What this means is a human and get attacked and gain massive exp, level up and heal quickly. Elves, on the other hand, get pounded but earn little in the way of exp.

About Undead line being too powerful. I think rather than lowering resistances I would try lowering melee attack power and get them to focus on

I don't think the map is too big. I think it's perfect. Also, I think the castle system is great. But, why shroud?

Here where I think you go wrong. There are just too many enemies, for a couple reasons:

1. You don't want to be playing this all day. It can take you hours to get to the point where you start seeing Skeletal Dragons,Sea Serpents and Yetis, and that's just single player. You are very literally going to be there all day if you play with a friend or two.

2. Mobility is too low. You can get permanently trapped too easily, even if you are killing the 14 enemies a round like I said I was. And, if you're playing with a friends, backstab becomes useless when you can't even move one space over, let alone behind an enemy. If you're worried about players being able to constantly outrun enemies, don't. In turn-based games like this it's always way easier to catch someone who is trying to get around you than it is to get around someone (it's different than real-time strat in that way). Mobility is a huge part of the Wesnoth's strat.

OK, here I took a screenshot of where I respawned on round 170. I quit there because I know I will never be able to move away from that area, or even move to better terrain. But it's not just like that on round 170. It's like this most of the way through.

I suggest having enemies spawn slower but make them get harder quicker. That way you could actually travel around but sometimes you would have no choice but to fight. Also, I think it would be neat to have an occasional enemy spawn that is way tougher than the rest. Players might choose to avoid it until they get stronger and can take it on.

Also, maybe you can decrease/increase the spawn rate depending on how many players there are (just don't do it the way Colosseum did it, because you could put player 2 as empty and just put more players after that and it would only spawn player 1's enemies). Not sure if you've done this though.

Another suggestion: I think you should do something about enemies attacking after you respawn in the center. I've gotten taken down to 1/3 HP just from a turn of enemies attacking before I got to control anything. Maybe move the unit somewhere safe in a dark area before putting him back into the center.

One more suggestion: I think it would be neat if you could think of a way to keep track of your "level", maybe change the description of the class "Human Hero L1", "Human Hero L23", etc.

Again, very fun and I can't wait for it to get better. If you want to use any abilities I have made for the in-progress Abilities Era, please feel free to do so.
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Postby TL » May 13th, 2007, 6:39 am

Ken Oh wrote:Vigorous does not cure poison, at least not for me. Also, respawning after dying doesn't cure poison either. This really makes the Undead path the only playable one at the moment.


It doesn't technically cure it but it is supposed to at least partially counteract it. I guess I haven't looked that closely.

The castle bonuses do clear poison but dying doesn't, oops. I'll fix that.

Ken Oh wrote:Teleport: Does this even work? I haven't figured out how to use it.


None of the menu commands worked in the original download (I used an out-of-date directory when including the file I macroed them away in :oops:) The current download should have it fixed, or you can just edit Arena.cfg and remove the extraneous /Heroes_Arena/ directory in the first line (it should just read {./commands.cfg} ).

Ken Oh wrote:I think the upgrade options have obvious groupings. You have stat upgrades (strength, dex, movement, toughness, etc.), combat abilities/skills (berserk, charge, backstab, etc.), terrain upgrades (movement and defense bonuses), "class path" upgrades, and so on. There are some stray ones that might not fit into anything else, like Vigorous, but you can maybe put that with stat upgrades. Either way, just kind of grouping those together, if you can, will make a big difference.


Okay by me. At some point I suppose I ought to make little icons for each group to help differentiate them, too, rather than just having copied the little heart icon for everything...

Ken Oh wrote:About the elf being underpowered. The reason for this has to do with a suggestion I have below. It's not because of a lack of skills, it's because having a strong ranged weapon is nothing like having a strong melee weapon. I'm currently on turn 161 (it's going very slowly at this point, and my laptop is getting really hot) and my human managed one kill on his turn, but then on the enemy's turn 13 of them attacked and died (not to mention everyone surrounding me is near death). What this means is a human and get attacked and gain massive exp, level up and heal quickly. Elves, on the other hand, get pounded but earn little in the way of exp.


Well, there's another reason too. The human hero has a built-in ability which I just called "heroic" which is a really crappy regen ability (2 HP per turn and does nothing to counter poison at all). The intent was to give this to all the player characters to extend their longevity a bit but I accidentally left it off the elf which was leaving them awfully short.

Even so, I know elves are less efficient at killing enemies. They get around a lot more easily, though, which is supposed to be the trade-off.

Ken Oh wrote:About Undead line being too powerful. I think rather than lowering resistances I would try lowering melee attack power and get them to focus on


Aw, you got cut off. I just know you had a really great suggestion here, too. Don't leave me hanging!

The one problem with lowering melee attack power is that AMLA [event]s are one-time effects. Right now I have Discorporation (which is where resistances get really crazy) reduce melee strength by 25%, but the thing is, if you pick up Discorporation before any strength boosts it'll just knock you down from 6-4 to 5-4 and then you can pump it back up to 11-4 (compared to 12-4 max for non-undead characters).

Then again, I guess I could attach a weapon special to take off a fixed percentage of damage, although that doesn't show up as clearly in the AMLA dialog. I guess a lot of effects aren't shown very clearly there anyhow so I might as well.

Ken Oh wrote:I don't think the map is too big. I think it's perfect. Also, I think the castle system is great.


It occurs to me that the castle bonuses scale a bit too rapidly, though. I originally set them to increase by such great big chunks (at least in single player; with more than 1 player the value jumps up every time any player gets a castle bonus, but to compensate it increases in much smaller increments when there are multiple players around) because at the time it was really quite difficulty to hit more than 2 or 3 bonuses and I wanted it to be worth the effort, however at the current rate once you manage to get a 4th or so bonus you're getting so much gold from each castle bonus that you're basically immortal. Since posting the original version I've had several "runaway" scenarios where I would get a castle bonus and have my gold go shooting up, I'd run along the outside edge to the next castle, and maybe I'd reach it or maybe I'd just get killed. If I got killed, I'd respawn in the center, but all the enemies would be piled up against the side of the arena where I just died... so I'd run in the opposite direction and claim a bonus at the third castle without any opposition.

Basically you reach a point by turn 50 or 60 where every castle just about gets you enough points to buy a respawn, and every time you respawn you're positioned with a clear road to one of the castles... I didn't play past turn 80 or so, so I suppose eventually enough enemies start spawning that you won't have a very clear run after you respawn. But then again by that point you can have 10 move and be getting through most terrain for 1 or ocassionally 2 move points...

Since the gold from killing enemies is 1/4 the XP from killing enemies, maybe I should make the castle bonus only give 1/4 as much gold as it does XP (currently it adds the same to both). Or maybe the respawn cost should scale upwards too, so every time you die you need more points to respawn? Maybe both?

Ken Oh wrote:Here where I think you go wrong. There are just too many enemies and for a couple reasons:

1. You don't want to be playing this all day. It can take you hours to get to the point where you start seeing Skeletal Dragons,Sea Serpents and Yetis, and that's just single player. You are very literally going to be there all day if you play with a friend or two.


True. I figured the individual turns are pretty short but once I started getting longer games going I did find that the sheer number of enemies bogs things down a bit.

Ken Oh wrote:2. Mobility is too low. You can get permanently trapped too easily, even if you are killing the 14 enemies a round like I said I was. And, if you're playing with a friends, backstab becomes useless when you can't even move one space over, let alone behind an enemy. If you're worried about players being able to constantly outrun enemies, don't. In turn-based games like this it's always way easier to catch someone who is trying to get around you than it is to get around someone (it's different than real-time strat in that way). Mobility is a huge part of the Wesnoth's strat.


Yeah, I know. The one problem is that the castle bonuses are already a potential problem and fewer enemies would just make things worse. I can always tone down the rate of castle bonuses, though.

Ken Oh wrote:OK, here I took a screenshot of where I respawned on round 170. I quit there because I know I will never be able to move away from that area, or even move to better terrain. But it's not just like that on round 170. It's like this most of the way through.


I guess by that point I ought to just have some kind of proper "win condition"... by the look of things you're to the point where you're getting a level 4 monster every round. But I do know the feeling of things getting a bit overcrowded even before that point...

Ken Oh wrote:I suggest having enemies spawn slower but make them get harder quicker. That way you could actually travel around but sometimes you would have no choice but to fight. Also, I think it would be neat to have an occasional enemy spawn that is way tougher than the rest. Players might choose to avoid it until they get stronger and can take it on.


There is some variety in spawn difficulty already... every 4th turn it produces slightly harder spawns, every 8th turn it produces spawns that are slightly harder than that, then every 16th turn it produces even harder spawns, and so on. It's not especially noticeable unless you're looking really closely, though. (The exact jump in difficulty on these turns depends on how many players are playing; turn 128 is the biggest increment I bother tracking, and at that point, in a single player game it produces a unit that is tougher by not quite a full unit level.)

Maybe I could use a similar system for quantity as well as quality. I don't want to go lower than 1 enemy per turn, but maybe I could have it spawn extras only on every 3rd turn or something like that, rather than just spawning more and more units on every turn.

Ken Oh wrote:Also, maybe you can decrease/increase the spawn rate depending on how many players there are (just don't do it the way Colosseum did it, because you could put player 2 as empty and just put more players after that and it would only spawn player 1's enemies). Not sure if you've done this though.


This already happens. Which means you probably don't want to see what 6 player games are like... :wink:

Actually it's not quite so bad because the spawns still only increase 1 at a time. In one player mode you start out at 1 enemy per turn and increase to 2 per turn at turn 10 or so... with six players it starts out at 6 and increases to 7 at that point. So after a while you're facing about 1.5x to 2x as many enemies, but with six times as many heroes to deal with them.

I suspect the balance is all goofy with respect to different number of players just because so many parts of the spawning algorithm change in so many diffierent ways. (More players face more enemies, but the additional enemies aren't as powerful, but you get to more powerful monsters faster, etc.) Basically more players means enemies are stronger both in quality AND in quantity (although not all at the same time) but it'll take some playtesting before I have the proportions right, especially considering all the abilities which only really work with multiple players...

Ken Oh wrote:One more suggestion: I think you should do something about enemies attacking after you respawn in the center. I've gotten taken down to 1/3 HP just from a turn of enemies attacking before I got to control anything. Maybe move the unit somewhere safe in a dark area before putting him back into the center.


Sounds reasonable enough.

Ken Oh wrote:Again, very fun and I can't wait for it to get better. If you want to use any abilities I have made for the in-progress Abilities Era, please feel free to do so.


Thanks for all the feedback! I have looked at some of the Abilities Era stuff and do plan to do some things which will at least be similar to some of those ideas. I haven't gotten much into abilities/specials which run off of event triggers but at this point I'm fairly confident in handling WML and do plan on getting to some of that stuff soon.
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Postby Ken_Oh » May 13th, 2007, 7:07 am

Aha, looks like you read it while I was editing and reposting.

Don't worry about reading it again. I think you only really missed:

It seems like you gave the crossbow marksmanship skill to the elf. When I choose it, it doesn't do anything.

And:

I think it would be neat if you could think of a way to keep track of your "level", maybe change the description of the class "Human Hero L1", "Human Hero L23", etc.

About the Undead thing where I forgot to keep on typing (I knew I left something hanging...), I was going to say that they should have to focus on ranged attacking more and creating a zombie army. The "silent" skill is a good idea (I was thinking the same thing, actually).

About the elf: Does it really get around that easily? It has normal elf forest bonuses, but doesn't have a higher base move or anything. It seems to me that the human can get just as good movement with just 1 skill.

I don't really thing heroic helps enough to make a huge difference. I mean, it seems like you either level up within a few rounds or you die. That's only a handful of HP.

I actually did notice how the castle points go up slower with more players. I think you should do a steadier increase and reduce the number of monsters (are we calling them monters when they're human too?). I'm sure you'll figure this out eventually. ;)

OK, congrats again on a great scenario. Excited to see what comes next.
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Postby TL » May 13th, 2007, 7:35 am

Ken Oh wrote:It seems like you gave the crossbow marksmanship skill to the elf. When I choose it, it doesn't do anything.


Oops! I definitely need to go through and make the macros I use for existing AMLA options a bit more flexible before I add any more new heroes.

Ken Oh wrote:And:

I think it would be neat if you could think of a way to keep track of your "level", maybe change the description of the class "Human Hero L1", "Human Hero L23", etc.


This would be pretty cool and I don't think it would be too hard to do.

Ken Oh wrote:About the Undead thing where I forgot to keep on typing (I knew I left something hanging...), I was going to say that they should have to focus on ranged attacking more and creating a zombie army. The "silent" skill is a good idea (I was thinking the same thing, actually).


Ok, I'll try that. I might make it a full 33% reduction (up from 25%) while I'm at it.

Ken Oh wrote:About the elf: Does it really get around that easily? It has normal elf forest bonuses, but doesn't have a higher base move or anything. It seems to me that the human can get just as good movement with just 1 skill.


The elf heroine does have the elf ranger's unique move cost reductions too. That makes them faster than humans in water, swamp, forest, mountains, and snow (but slower in caves). The human "ranger" skill mostly levels that out, but elves can get Faerie Magic -> Fey Transformation, which gives them the full movement abilities of the Sylph/Shyde, which except in caves is even better than having both "ranger" and "mountaineer".

Plus bear in mind that forests are fairly plentiful and elves get crazy defense there; an elf with skirmish can forest-hop across the arena without much difficulty, whereas humans generally have to hang around castles if they want decent defense. Again, not as good as killing, but they can move around more freely without giving up defense (especially if you go for Plant Growth, at least once the menu commands are fixed...)

Ken Oh wrote:I don't really thing heroic helps enough to make a huge difference. I mean, it seems like you either level up within a few rounds or you die. That's only a handful of HP.


Even without it, it wasn't too hard to make an elf last to turn 20 or so. By that point it would have been worth as much as 40 HP. OK, so actually you would have spent some of that time at full health anyhow, but still that's 20 or 30 extra HP at a crucial time. Not HUGE, but in playtesting I can't tell you how many times I died just a couple XP short of a much-needed level, or a few spaces away from a castle with a high bonus...

Ken Oh wrote:I actually did notice how the castle points go up slower with more players. I think you should do a steadier increase and reduce the number of monsters (are we calling them monters when they're human too?).


Heh, I've been trying to refer to them as "enemies" but I've noticed myself slipping and calling them monsters sometimes out of habit. Uh... maybe the human ones are doppelgangers?
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Postby Ken_Oh » May 13th, 2007, 7:53 am

Cool.

Alright, one more thing. I can't get "menu commands" to work still. I reDLed the above and nothing. What are they anyway? When you right click on a unit it gives you options?

btw, I'm using v1.3.2
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Postby TL » May 13th, 2007, 8:04 am

They are all right-click menu options, yes, but since they're only usable by your hero character it's not actually required you select them, you just right-click the target hex and they should show up there (plant growth is the only one implemented so far you should be right-clicking your own hex for, since it can't affect other hexes).

Do you think it would be better if I did have it set up so you selected them from a menu on your hero and then were prompted to select a target? I guess it would be more intuitive, but it would take a bit longer to use them.
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Postby Ken_Oh » May 13th, 2007, 8:09 am

Ah. I think you just need documentation.

I think you need a lot more space to write stuff than you have been given. :)

p.s. Elf has crossbow's poison as well, which doesn't work

EDIT: Oh, and you might want to take away the ability to use Plant Growth when you're already on a forest hex.

EDIT #2: Those on-command abilities are awesome, and make elf not quite as bad as I thought.

(btw, I didn't know the on-command stuff was put in already. I've got ideas I wanted to do but couldn't because of the lack of something like that.)

One last thought before I get on with the day:

I still think the enemies are maybe just a little too plentiful. I'm thinking the rarest kind of enemy should be those that have above 7 movement points. This is where the entrapment gets easy, because you respawn and then, before you ever get to move, bats, wolf riders, drakes, ghosts, gryphon and horseback units come out of nowhere and trap you on all 6 sides.

If I were you, I'd experiment with taking 1 MP from all enemies. And, if you wanted to do what I suggested earlier about having occasional "boss" enemies, it would make sense I think to take a movement point or two away from them, as they are appearing earlier than they normally would. You could even label them as boss.

Aight. Peace.

EDIT #3: You should do something that adds your total strenght/dex bonus after you add a new attack.
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Postby TL » May 14th, 2007, 11:38 pm

Okay, I uploaded a new version. The number of enemies has been reduced somewhat and it produces more powerful enemies earlier (including more noticeably difficult "spikes" in power for the semi-boss spawns). I agree with the idea of needing some harder-than-normal enemies to show up, both for variety and to improve the balance of defensively oriented abilities (which tend to work best vs. swarms of weak monsters) and offensively oriented abilities (which tend to work better vs. single powerful enemies). I did reduce the rate of increase on the castle bonuses though. Haven't had time to substantially playtest the new enemy settings so let me know how you do in the new version.

I'm not really certain about the need to reduce enemy moves now that there are fewer of them but I'll keep it in mind for future reference. I did add in a few more upgrades, though, including a few mobility-oriented upgrades branching off of skirmisher.
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